Before any maintenance is performed on even the smallest part of an aircraft, before a jet makes it to the flight deck, and before it launches into the sky, the aviation maintenance administrationmen (AZ) of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) log and approve all aeronautical paperwork required to certify an aircraft safe to operate.
The quality assurance administrators of aviation rates, AZs may serve behind the scenes but they are integral to aviation operations.
“Many Sailors are unaware of the responsibilities an AZ has if they aren’t involved in an aviation field, and it leads to a lack of understanding of the role we play on board the ship,” said Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 1st Class Ronald Claiborne.
Aviation maintenance administrationmen perform technical, managerial and support duties required by the Naval Aviation Maintenance Program (NAMP). Sailors of the AZ community prepare aircraft and maintenance related files, and are responsible for custody records, control forms and reporting requirements.
“Coming to this ship, there were a lot of inexperienced AZs since we were in the shipyard for so long,” said Claiborne. “There were a lot of things that needed to get done in preparation for aviation maintenance inspections and getting underway. We put in a lot of hours of training to get ready and when the time came for our inspections, we were amongst the top scoring in the fleet.”
Claiborne has been recognized as a valued member of the AZ community by his superiors for his performance preparing TR’s aviation departments to be combat ready for deployment.
“AZ1 Claiborne has been the single most important person in establishing Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD) and CVW-1 onboard,” said Chief Aviation Maintenance Administrationman Kenneth Jackson. “He managed and ensured that squadrons’ maintainers would be able to report their maintenance transactions up-line. Additionally, he led the efforts of AIMD passing our latest inspection due to his programs affecting all 42 work centers within AIMD.”
AZs are given plenty of autonomy in their work center but with that amount of responsibility comes high expectations.
“As an AZ I know what is expected of me without direct supervision and there usually aren’t any major surprises in regards to my workload or what is expected of me,” said Aviation Maintenance Administrationman Airman Carli Foster. “A lot of my day goes towards customer service, assuring everyone is satisfied with my department’s work and answering any questions they may have to the best of our ability.”
Just like any other rate, there is the opportunity to learn more than just on-the-job training. Many Sailors acquire skills that will provide more tools for leadership positions within the Navy or carry over into the civilian sector after separation.
“Being an AZ has improved my multi-tasking skills and helped me interact with other people as a representative of my shop” said Foster. “AZs are similar to yeomen but we deal with a lot more logs and records and the aircraft embarked on the ship.”
In order to maintain combat effectiveness, AZs must work together and make certain all personnel are trained to face any challenges encountered on deployment.
“Our AZs have come a long way since I first came to TR as far as individual ability and unit cohesiveness. We have become a more confident team and are ready for anything that comes our way,” said Claiborne.
While an AZ’s job may involve a lot of paperwork, the rate is essential to bridge the maintenance actions required on an aircraft, maintenance completed and accountability between the maintenance person and the squadron or division leadership.
“We are the quality assurance of aircraft maintenance. We make sure the right maintenance is done and documented,” said Claiborne. “If an aircraft were to go down, it would start coming back down to us and our log books to see what went wrong from a technical standpoint.”
With more than a decade of fleet experience, Claiborne understands the various roles that an AZ can fill to contribute to mission readiness and mission accomplishment.
“I have been an AZ for 15 years now, and as ship’s company I can do anything from working as a maintenance admin handling paperwork or production control, handling the log books for engines and anything that happens with work orders,” said Claiborne. “If I were an AZ in a squadron, I would analyze logs or handle anything dealing with repairs, inspections, and after action reports.”
An unseen cog in the aviation machine, aviation maintenance administrationmen are an integral part of the aviation community whether assigned to a squadron or ship’s company.
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